Tags: Sales Management Best Practices, sales management, sales coach, sales planning, sales producitivity, business tools, business planning, business plans, The Competitive Edge, writing a business plan
I just pulled the plug on my ISP.
Big firm, terrible connectivity, and consistently poor service, so I finally made the decision to pull the plug last week since I just couldn't be held hostage anymore. Lee Drake, superb tech CEO, at his IT support firm, OS Cubed, had been telling me to do this for the years, but I didn't want to go through the pain of disruption. Finally the pain of staying connected outweighed the fear of the pain of disruption. The move happens next week, the process will be transparent, and I could not be happier. The point of this introduction is that when I looked up our background with the ISP, I discovered that we had been with them for 20 years !!
20 years ago, the World Wide Web had just been invented. We moved to WWW using Mosaic from Arpanet where we had stuck it out for years using arcane commands, slow speeds and calling people on our landline telephone to ask if they did in fact receive the email (although it wasn't called email, we did not have html, nor did the words that came through on the screen look like any email that we know today).
Which brings me thinking about the 2017 concept of "Day 1", and the adoption of faster change in our business, in our sales development, and in my teaching Marketing, and, with this semester, a new course in Sales. I should have made this ISP switch five years ago, and for some wacko reason, I just stuck it out piling up one wasted hour after another. 2017 is about every day being Day 1 and initiating more rapid change that brings more value to our customers' businesses.
There's no Black Friday in B2B Selling!
The fact that the holiday season kicks of with Black Friday, followed by Cyber Monday, and then just plain old "Discount Day" all day, every day between now and the 24th, doesn't mean that the same should hold true for those of us in B2B sales. Sure, everyone on both sides of the table knows that we have quotas to meet, and, in most cases, the pressure's on to hit plan in the next 17 days. BTW, "17" is really expanding the days to the max, and not taking into consideration the reality of kids' vacations and that large numbers of decision makers are going to be skiing during many of those precious days between Christmas and New Year's.
Pressure, Pressure, Pressure!
My partners and I live in the real world, and we're also under the gun to hit our sales targets, but, as execs running lots of companies and a wide variety of sales groups, we know that most discounts are not necessary! In fact, the data shows that typically good salespeople do abnormal things at this time of year and give out discounts just because they think incorrectly that everyone is price buying, and that they need to do the same.
The reality is that it's just not true, and, in fact, it only becomes true, when we don't focus on selling value, and instead we start our sales processes at the bottom rung of the ladder with non-decision makers who push us to talk about price rather than focusing on the larger business case of explaining financial value.
Price Selling" is at the very bottom rung of The Selling Ladder- "The Approved Vendor" Rung.
- Even in the heat of the next 16 days, our total focus and actual rally cry needs to be totally driven to the top two rungs of The Selling Ladder-"The Strategic Adviser" and the Trusted Partner" rungs.
That's where the money is, so we must have absolute focus on the financial value to our prospects and customers and not on the price.
A bit of help on pricing to value comes from our friends at Hubspot in one of their posts this week
1) Don’t Talk About Price Right Away
HubSpot Research found nearly six in 10 prospects want to discuss pricing on the very first call. But introducing cost into the conversation before establishing value can commoditize your product. This mindset hurts you and the buyer. He’s thinking about sticker price instead of ROI.
2) Highlight What Sets Your Product Apart
Once you’ve found your differentiators, figure out which resonate with each of your buyer personas. A startup employee who wears several hats will appreciate your product’s simplicity, while a corporate employee with a single function will like how customizable it is.
3) Position Your Product Strategically
Although badmouthing other companies will make you look insecure and unprofessional, you can -- and should -- ask your prospect which other vendors she’s considering. Her answer tells you how to position your product.
Oh, yea, did I mention "17"? Thought I did!
The issue of a finite time now also needs to be driven by the fact that days are not 8 hour days. I mean, they could be, but in fact, we know from our buddies at Salesforce from tens of thousands of professional salespeople that sales reps aren't spending most of their time selling. In fact, reps spend an average of 64 percent of their time on non-selling tasks, including administrative and service related tasks, traveling and training.
Okay, now do your math on just 17 days!
It all comes down to this..
- The 13 week sales cycle ends a day like today
- Final Tufts management presentations today and next Wednesday
- Close the deals today and next week successfully, and everyone goes home with high marks
When I first started teaching Marketing at Tufts 10 years ago, I knew that I had to do something different because there was no way that I would hold the attention of 30 bright Millennials, who were not majoring in marketing, past one class, let alone 13. So, I took best practices that I had learned from Professor Jung-Hoon Chun at MIT, and, at that time, my 10 years of teaching business planning and marketing in his mechanical engineering course, where I continue to lecture. Those best practices provide...
In the rhythm of the seasons, we're right now at the peak of leaf-peeping time here in New England. This afternoon, I'm headed to my little (population 697) town of Bondville in Vermont along with hundreds of buses from Iowa, Indiana and everywhere else just to get a glimpse of fall color.
Long ago, I learned from 'The Boys on the Bench' down at the Winhall General Store that the month of October is known as "the money month" by the locals around all of the resort towns in Vermont.
A good example of the quirkiness of Vermonters (me being a 7th generation Vermonter and a perfect example of quirky) is the fact that the Winhall General store is directly across the street from the Bondville Post office. Vermont calls my town "Winhall", while the federal government calls it "Bondville". Only in Vermont!
Fall has officially begun, and we're deep into it already
Summer's gone with a snap of the fingers and a turn of the page of the calendar with lingering self promises that "next year, I'm going to plan my schedule better."
Good luck on that btw...
I'm now going to date myself, but it's an important perspective in understanding just why I, you and the entire profession of sales need to keep rapidly evolving while it focuses, not on the practice of sales itself, but on the value that we bring to our customers.
"I'm not old enough yet to play golf"
At the tender young age of whatever I am, I keep saying that "I'm not old enough yet to play golf". That somewhat "too cute" comment, especially at the age of whatever I am, is also just a bit too sarcastic even for me, so I've dropped that phrase in response to the frequent question, "Do you want to join us for golf this weekend?"
The numbers are in....
I've been roaming the sales cubicles of lots of companies most of last week and this. Probably 20 plus companies in 10 work days. Opening doors into the heads of heavy-hitter sales leaders along with young, hard working BDRs. Asking the tough questions of hard-charging, get-out-of-my-way 35 year olds and also to a few 55 year old trail-beaten veterans who still hang on to "the old days" of relationship selling.